FBI raids lab test startup's office over billing practices

On April 26, the FBI conducted a search of the San Francisco headquarters of uBiome, a startup that provides DNA sequencing of customers' microbiomes, the agency confirmed to The Wall Street Journal.

The investigation reportedly concerns uBiome's billing practices, which are also being examined by the California Department of Insurance and insurers such as Anthem, Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield, according to the Journal. The scrutiny stems from uBiome's alleged practices of hiring physicians to order their tests for patients — sometimes without patient approval — and billing government programs, including the private Medicare Advantage plan, for tests.

In a statement, uBiome told the Journal it "does not have any control over physician billing. Any improper billing by physicians, if it occurred, is not related to uBiome's billing practices." Additionally, in an interview with the outlet shortly before the FBI raid, the company's CEO Jessica Richman said uBiome's billing practices are proper and that "compliance is our highest value."

UBiome, which was founded in 2012 and bills itself as "the leading microbial genomics company," offers three genetic sequencing-based at-home tests that examine patients' gut, vaginal and nasal microbiomes, then provide a clinical report that can be used by physicians to diagnose conditions and offer health advice based on the microorganisms detected. According to the company's website, all uBiome tests, which must be ordered by a healthcare provider, are "fully or partially covered by most health insurance companies under 'out-of-network' healthcare benefits."

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